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Incredible Edible Munch

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Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams vs. White Potatoes​



By CAT EBELING, RN, Contributing Writer


Some people call them “yams” and others call them “sweet potatoes”. Is there a difference? And how do they compare with regular white potatoes?

Well for starters, sweet potatoes are the orange or reddish colored root vegetable you see at the grocery store. They are a member of the morning glory family, and not related to either yams or white potatoes. Sweet potatoes generally come from either Central or South America.

Sweet potatoes are usually longer and tapered at the ends with smooth colored skin, and can range in color from tan, to yellow, to orange, red, or purple. Sweet potato’s flesh inside also varies from white to orange or reddish orange, to purple-colored. Sweet potatoes are also usually softer and sweeter when cooked than either yams or regular white potatoes.

Yams are also a tuber vegetable. However, they come from a completely different family and are actually part of the lily family. Yams originated in Africa and Asia and there are about 600 different varieties of yams. Yams have some distinct characteristics, and if you ever saw them, you would probably not confuse them with sweet pota- toes. Compared to sweet potatoes, yams can grow very large. Size can vary from that of a small potato to up to 5 feet (1.5 meters). 

Yams are more cylindrical, and have rough brown, almost tree-bark like skin that is very difficult to peel. The inside flesh is white, yellow, purple or pinkish. Yams are not sweet and smooth like sweet potatoes, they are more dry and starchy tasting. Yams are not a common item to find in your grocery store, in fact, they are often difficult to find, except perhaps in an international market or ethnic food store.

White potatoes are something we are all pretty familiar with. White potatoes come from the Solanaceae family, which is related to tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant and considered part of the “nightshade” group of vegeta- bles. While there are literally thousands of different types of potatoes in the world, in general the types of pota- toes we see here in the US and in Europe are classified as russet potatoes, red potatoes, white potatoes, yellow potatoes (or Yukon Gold) and purple potatoes.

Sweet potatoes, yams, and regular white potatoes are actually all from different plant families and not related.

Sweet potatoes have become much more common and popular in the past 10 years or so, and are often served baked, mashed, roasted or fried. They are also a great alternative to French fries, and an alternative to regular mashed potatoes.


Sweet potatoes are often pureed and used in recipes like soups and desserts. And of course, sweet potatoes are a staple on the Thanksgiving table, sometimes served as sweet potato casserole with marshmallows (please don’t!) or made into a sweet potato pie.

If you are looking for a way to use those sweet potatoes in your kitchen, this is a must try recipe. You reap the benefits of all the nutrients from the sweet potato and turmeric as well. Curry Sweet Potato Soup (packed with antioxidants and fights inflammation)

African yams are usually boiled and mashed into a starchy paste called “Fufu.” Yams are not usually eaten baked; however, if they are baked they must be peeled before cooking. If you tried to cook them whole, they tend to explode, leaving a big mess!

How did yams and sweet potatoes get confused here in America? When African slaves came to the United States, they called our sweet potato “nyami” or “yam” in English, because it resembled the yam from Africa.

The darker-skinned orange sweet potato variety was only recently introduced in the US, and to differentiate them from the original sweet potatoes, they were called “yams.” 


n many grocery stores, the dark, reddish skinned sweet potatoes are called “garnet yams”, but they are not really real yams either. They are sweet potatoes. In the United States, yams and sweet potatoes are often used interchangeably. Most all yams in a grocery store are actually sweet potatoes.


Sweet potato nutrition


Sweet potatoes contain a lot of nutrients (which is why they are so popular) including a massive amount of beta-carotene, the nutrient that our bodies turn into vitamin A. Eat sweet potatoes with butter to help this transforma- tion work best. Sweet potatoes also contain about 35-40 percent of your necessary daily vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, niacin, thiamine and magnesium.

Sweet potatoes also help to stabilize blood sugar, and help the body become more sensitive to insulin. In fact,  one study from Austria showed that a diabetic group who ate sweet potatoes actually had lower blood sugar levels at the end of the study than the control group. This is due partly to the high fiber content, which slows the absorption of sugar into the body, and probably due to the high amounts of antioxidants, as well.


Antioxidants also help to reduce other chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The orange color in sweet potatoes means it is especially high in the antioxidant beta-carotene. A good rule of thumb for eating sweet potatoes is to pick the most colorful ones—these contain the most antioxidants. Sweet potatoes are also known to boost brain function, improve memory, and prevent oxidative damage in the brain.

Since sweet potatoes have about 400 percent of the pre-cursor to vitamin A, they are especially good for boosting the immune system, protecting the vision, and helping the skin.

What about yams?


Yams are higher in calories, carbohydrates and fiber and while they also contain a good amount of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese but are not as nutrient-dense or full of antioxidants as sweet potatoes. (Hint—antioxidants have a lot to do with color).

Yams contain more potassium and manganese—both vital minerals that are good for bone and nerve health, heart function and metabolism. Yams do contain some similar nutrients like B vitamins but the health benefits of yams have not been studied as much as sweet potatoes. Yams are, however, derivative of an ingredient called

 progesterone, thought to help women’s hormone levels. There is some evidence that yam extract may be a helpful remedy for some of the unpleasant symptoms of PMS and menopause.

White potato nutrition


White potatoes do contain lots of healthy minerals, fiber and carbohydrates, but definitely are not the superstars that sweet potatoes are. White potatoes belong to a totally different plant family, are definitely different looking than either yams or sweet potatoes and have a whole different set of nutrients. White potatoes contain plenty of vitamin C, folate (a necessary B vitamin), vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, but not the high levels of vitamin A or antioxidants that sweet potatoes contain.


Blood sugar and the glycemic index

Sweet potatoes have a medium-to-high GI, around 60, and yams have a lower GI at about 50. White potatoes score the highest at 75. Considering the three types of potatoes, gram for gram, white potatoes will cause a sharper spike in blood sugar. If you are diabetic or trying to keep your blood sugar low, you are better off eating sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are also higher in fiber than regular potatoes.

Healthiest of the three types of potatoes in terms of nutrition is sweet potatoes by a slim margin! However, yams, sweet potatoes and white potatoes can all be healthy additions to the diet. Preparation is the important factor; Frying is not healthy, so eat baked instead of fried, and add a little dab of grass-fed butter on it!

Cat Ebeing is a registered nurse with a master degree in nutrition science. She co-authored the best-selling books, "The Fat Burning Kitchen," "The Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging," and "The Diabetes Fix."



Maple Candied Nuts


From Living Local Spring,

from Minnesota Grown

by minnesotagrown


The delicious flavor of pure maple syrup shines in this recipe. Once you try candied nuts made with maple syrup, you’ll never go back to sugar! They’re great on salads, ice cream or other desserts or on their own as a tasty, sweet snack.


2 cups of raw nuts — pecan or walnut halves work well

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon salt


1. Combine all ingredients in a medium sauté pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring cons- tantly, until maple syrup is reduced by at least half, about 3-4 minutes.

2. Lower heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the liquid in the maple syrup has evaporated and it has crystallized into maple sugar, about 6-9 minutes. Reduce the heat as necessary to prevent burning the nuts or maple sugar. You’ll notice the syrup start to become grainy and coat the nuts with crystals that look like tiny grains of sugar. Keep cooking and stirring until the pan is dry and the syrup has completely crystallized, covering the nuts.

3. Immediately remove nuts to a sheet pan and spread in a single layer to cool. Once cooled, store in an airtight container. Nuts will keep at room temperature for up to a week, or in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Find a Minnesota maple syrup producer near you in the Minnesota Grown Directory at

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Bananas supply fiber, which protects bowel health and helps regulate digestion. The amount of potassium in bananas also make them a good fruit to eat to decrease your risk of kidney stones. Banana is also an excellent source of potassium. Strawberries promote good eyesight and decrease symptoms of arthritis, thanks to the high volume of antioxidants. Strawberry has 153mg of potassium per 100 grams and banana has 358mg of potassium.

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Healthy truths about collard and mustard greens

Collard greens—or just "collards"—are a member of the cabbage (Brassica) family of vegetables, which means they are a cruciferous vegetable. Their dark green pigment is a signal they contain nutritious antioxidants. Collards are also an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, including calcium. You can use them as you would any dark leafy greens, like kale or spinach.

A cup of raw collard greens is very low in carbohydrates, containing merely 2 grams. As with most non-starchy vegetables, there is no scientific study of the glycemic index of collards, but it is assumed to be low. Much of the carbohydrate in collard greens is fiber; it has a small amount of naturally occurring sugar. Collard greens have only a trace amount of fat on their own. If they are cooked in fat (such as olive oil), however, the resulting dish will contain fat. Cooking them in fat will help a person absorb the fat-soluble vitamins found in collard green such as vitamin K.

Like other vegetables, collard greens are not high in protein, but they do contain 1 gram per cup raw. Leafy greens like collards are packed with nutrients. Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin K (1 cup of cooked col- lard greens has eight times the daily requirement), vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, and other caroten- oids such as lutein and zeaxanthin. The cruciferous vegetables (which include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and other leafy greens like kale and collards), as a group, have been shown to have many beneficial properties.

Research is ongoing, but some studies have shown that higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables may reduce the risk of some cancers, including prostate, breast, and lung cancers. High intake of leafy and cruciferous vegetables is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (as much as 16% lower), according to an analysis of eight different studies. One way cruciferous vegetables may help protect the heart is by reducing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). One study of women's vegetable intake found that only cruciferous veggies offered this benefit.

In addition, higher intakes of fiber may help to improve heart health by reducing bad cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. That dietary fiber in collard greens offers an array of other health benefits. People who consume more fiber are at lower risk for stroke, diabetes, obesity, and some gastrointestinal diseases.

One of the antioxidants in collard greens is lutein. This compound, related to vitamin A, is important to healthy vision and helps protect the eyes from age-related degeneration and diseases. Along with lutein, collard greens contain other antioxidants that can help protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation.

People who follow a low-FODMAP diet (a diet low in fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) to manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease can safely consume collard greens. Though uncommon, allergies to foods in the Brassica family have been reported, sometimes with cross-reactivity to mugwort pollen or mustard.7 If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after consuming or handling collard greens, consult with a doctor about how to manage this sensitivity.

Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin K. While this is a useful vitamin, it can interfere with certain blood-thinning medicines. If you take Coumadin (warfarin), discuss your vitamin K intake with your doctor. Collard greens are also high in oxalates, which in some people can cause painful kidney stones. If you have any kidney problems, you may want to limit your consumption of collard greens or consider consuming high-oxalate foods like collards along with foods containing calcium (such as dairy products or tofu).


Eating these foods together makes them less likely to form into kidney stones. Especially when consumed raw, cruciferous vegetables contain natur- ally occurring chemicals that may interfere with thyroid function. If you have a thyroid condition, you may need to eat fewer of these vegetables, or be sure to cook them prior to eating.

Although there are various cultivars of collard greens, in general, they are not sold as different varieties or under different names. You can also buy frozen or canned collards. Nutritionally, these options are comparable to raw greens, except that canned collards have significantly more sodium. Collard greens are a winter crop, but they are typically available all year round. When shopping, look for dark green leaves.

Mustard Greens

​Mustard greens are peppery-tasting greens that come from the mustard plant (Brassica juncea L.). Also known as brown mustard, vegetable mustard, Indian mustard, and Chinese mustard, mustard greens are members of the Brassica genus of vegetables. This genus also includes kale, collard greens, broccoli, and cauliflower. There are several varieties, which are usually green and have a strong bitter, spicy flavor. To make them more palatable, these leafy greens are typically enjoyed boiled, steamed, stir-fried, or even pickled.

Mustard greens are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat, as they’re low in calories yet rich in fiber and micronutrients. The health benefits of mustards are practically identical to collards. Additionally, mustard greens contain 4–5 percent of the DV for calcium, iron, potassium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), magnesium, and thiamine (vitamin B1), as well as small amounts of zinc, selenium, phosphorus, niacin (vitamin B3), and folate. Compared

with raw mustard greens, one cup (140 grams) of cooked mustard greens has much higher levels of vitamin A (96 percent of the DV), vitamin K (690 percent of the DV), and copper (22.7 percent of the DV). Yet, it’s lower in vitamins C and E.

Pickled mustard greens, often referred to as takana in Japanese and Chinese cuisines, are similar in calories, carbs, and fiber as raw mustard greens. But they do lose some nutrients during pickling, especially vitamin C.

However, one study found that pickling was an effective method for retaining important plant compounds with antioxidant properties.


Mustard greens are low in calories yet high in fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals. In particular, they’re an excellent source of vitamins C and K. There’s currently limited research on the specific benefits of eating mustard greens. Still, the individual nutrients found in mustard greens — and Brassica vegetables in general — have been associated with numerous health benefits. Antioxidants are naturally occurring plant compounds that help protect against oxidative stress caused by an excess of free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage your cells. Research suggests that over time, this damage can lead to serious, chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. While levels of specific antioxidants vary between the different varieties of mustard greens, these leafy greens in general are a rich source of antioxidants like flavonoids, beta carotene, lutein, and vitamins C and E.


Additionally, red varieties are rich in anthocyanins, which are red-purple pigments found in fruits and vegetables that have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Overall, including mustard greens in your diet may help protect against diseases related to oxidative stress. Both raw and cooked mustard greens are a phenomenal source of vitamin K, providing 120 percent and 690 percent of the DV per one cup (56 grams and 140 grams), respectively.

Vitamin K is best known for its vital role in helping with blood clotting. It’s also been shown to be essential for heart and bone health. In fact, inadequate vitamin K has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and osteopo- rosis, a condition that results in reduced bone strength and an increased risk of fractures. Recent studies have also suggested a link between vitamin K deficiency and brain health. Inadequate vitamin K may be associated with an increased risk of impaired brain functioning, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. However, more research is needed.

Mustard greens may also be good for your immune system. Just one cup (56 grams raw, 140 grams cooked) pro- vides more than a third of your daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that’s essential for a strong immune system. Research shows that not getting enough vitamin C in your diet can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick. Additionally, vitamin A in mustard greens also supports your immune response. It does this by promoting the growth and distribution of T cells, which are a type of white blood cell needed to help fight off potential infections.

Mustard greens may also be good for your heart. They’re loaded with antioxidants like flavonoids and beta caro- tene, which have been associated with a reduced risk of developing and dying from heart disease. One review of eight studies found that a high intake of leafy green Brassica veggies is associated with a significant 15 percent reduced risk of heart disease. As with other Brassica vegetables, mustard greens contain compounds that help bind bile acids in your digestive system. This is important, as preventing the reabsorption of bile acids leads to lowered cholesterol levels.

According to one test-tube study, steaming mustard greens significantly increases their bile acid binding effect. This suggests that steamed mustard greens may have greater cholesterol-lowering potential, compared with eating them raw. Among the antioxidants in mustard greens are lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to benefit eye health. Specifically, these two compounds help protect your retina from oxidative damage, as well as filter out potentially harmful blue light.


s a result, research suggests that eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin may help protect against age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. In addition to powerful antioxidants, which may have anticancer effects, mustard greens are high in a group of beneficial plant compounds called glucosinolates. In test-tube studies, glucosinolates have been shown to help protect cells against DNA damage and prevent the growth of cancerous cells. However, these benefits haven’t been studied in humans. Similarly, a test-tube study of mustard leaf extract found protective effects against colon and lung cancers. Still, studies in humans are needed.

As for research in humans, observational studies have shown a link between overall intake of Brassica vegetables — but not mustard greens specifically — and a reduced risk of certain types of cancers, including stomach, color- ectal, and ovarian cancer. Mustard greens are rich in important plant compounds and micronutrients, specifically vitamins A, C, and K. As a result, eating them may have benefits for eye and heart health, as well as anticancer and immune-boosting properties.



‘Toria's Country Greens With Vegetable Medley 

A Delicious Dinner for Dieters


Smoked Turkey Drumstick or Wings. Pre bake with onions and garlic to get the best juices to flavor your greens

Add water to maintain a simmering action. Fresh Greens (Collards from my garden—Mustards from my grocer)

OK to mix to your taste—Kale, Turnip, other fresh greens

Using large pot, add the juices from the Smoked Turkey with water sufficient to cover the fresh greens. Boil 20 minutes, then simmer for 20 minutes. De-bone the Turkey and add the meat. Meanwhile, peel and dice the following:


1 Rutabaga   

1 Turnip

 3–4 Carrots (Large)


Try to dice them the same size so that they look good together. Rutabaga takes a little longer to cook, so boil them 5–10 minutes before adding Turnips. Add Carrots last—they take no more than 5 minutes to boil. Veggies can also be steamed.


Optional:  Add butter, margarine, butter substitute if you must.


Season to taste. Plate and garnish the plate with green onions. 

Green Onion Prep: Cutting the tip off, cut the white part off from the green stems. Make several incisions from 1” in to the outer rim. A dip for a few minutes in water will allow the onion tips to spread out more like a flower.


OPTIONAL MEAL ADDS: Serve with Wild Rice if you’re watching your weight; Mac & Cheese If you’re not.

Add Hot Water Corn Bread if you’re watching your weight; Corn Bread or Monkey Bread if you’re not.


Bon Appetite!

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